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Iain Henderson is contention for award as Andrew Trimble hails Rugby Players Ireland impact on switch in mental health approach

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Pictured are former rugby players and podcast hosts, Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy who, today, were announced as hosts of this year’s Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards. The 2021 Zurich Irish Rugby Awards will take place on Friday December 3rd via Facebook Live on the Rugby Players Ireland Facebook page. This year, nine awards will be handed out, including the prestigious Zurich Irish Men’s Player of the Year Award and Zurich Women’s Player of the Year Award.

Pictured are former rugby players and podcast hosts, Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy who, today, were announced as hosts of this year’s Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards. The 2021 Zurich Irish Rugby Awards will take place on Friday December 3rd via Facebook Live on the Rugby Players Ireland Facebook page. This year, nine awards will be handed out, including the prestigious Zurich Irish Men’s Player of the Year Award and Zurich Women’s Player of the Year Award.

©INPHO/James Crombie

Pictured are former rugby players and podcast hosts, Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy who, today, were announced as hosts of this year’s Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards. The 2021 Zurich Irish Rugby Awards will take place on Friday December 3rd via Facebook Live on the Rugby Players Ireland Facebook page. This year, nine awards will be handed out, including the prestigious Zurich Irish Men’s Player of the Year Award and Zurich Women’s Player of the Year Award.

Ulster skipper Iain Henderson is in the running for the prestigious Players' Player of the Year gong at this afternoon's Zurich Irish Rugby Players' Awards.

The 29-year-old was in sparkling form for Ireland through last season, shaking off lockdown hip surgery to hit the ground running back in the green jersey.

While he sustained a knee injury against Scotland in the finale of the Autumn Nations Cup, he didn't miss a beat upon return in the Six Nations, parlaying a strong championship into a second British and Irish Lions tour.

Selection didn't break his way in South Africa, but on the biggest stage there is little denying that this was among the second-row's finest season.

His competition on the day will come from Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Beirne and Tom Daly, while his provincial team-mate is in the running for Try of the Year.

While the event, which will be streamed live on Rugby Players' Ireland Facebook, is the glamorous side of the organisation's work, it is their year-round work that makes the organisation so valuable, according to the ceremony's hosts Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy.

And the former Ireland team-mates, who host the popular rugby podcast 'Potholes and Penguins' and recently appeared together on RTE's 'Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week', believe their work is more relevant now than ever.

"When you're playing, when you're bogged down in the grind, you can forget that this only goes on until my 30s...maybe," says Trimble who remains a regular on our screens through punditry work while still CEO of Kairos, a a scheduling and communications platform for elite sports teams.

"It's then you realise that you should be more proactive. Rugby Players Ireland gives you that support and makes you aware of opportunities.

"And the transition out of rugby is a big thing, but it's issues when you are playing too and the 'Tackle Your Feelings' campaign is a big part of that.

"It feels like that campaign was being promoted long before mental health awareness became more of a topic on the agenda.

"Everyone now gives it the attention it deserves but Rugby Players Ireland was one of the first to pioneer that and to challenge people to be open and aware and to discuss things that are affecting us pro rugby players.

"It was brave of them to do that at the start and even towards the end of my career there was a different vibe, a new culture emerging away from the 'toughen up and get on with it.'

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"I think a lot of that was down to the work of Rugby Players Ireland."

Ten years on from bringing the curtain down on his playing career with Munster, the four-times capped Murphy found the organisation a huge help when the pandemic robbed him of the opportunity to play live with his band Hermitage Green.

"I think they're getting better at what they do with every passing year. The support they have given me with different things over the last 12 months through Covid even though I'm retired 10 years, they still were right there with me when I was struggling through not working for two years.

"They gave me a platform to speak about that and without them I would have had very little support.

I've found them to be very supportive. I just think it's a very cool thing to have for players.

"Whenever you do retire, you lose a large part of your identity and association and it can be difficult to stay involved with your club. Things change, players move on, coaches move on and it happens quickly. To have something like Rugby Players Ireland, the different events that they have, you can have a bit more fun with players from other provinces that you wouldn't have had.

"It's brilliant. It's such a positive association."

Pictured are former rugby players and podcast hosts, Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy who, today, were announced as hosts of this year’s Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards. The 2021 Zurich Irish Rugby Awards will take place on Friday December 3rd via Facebook Live on the Rugby Players Ireland Facebook page. This year, nine awards will be handed out, including the prestigious Zurich Irish Men’s Player of the Year Award and Zurich Women’s Player of the Year Award.


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